Rugby is known for a lot of things – respect, camaraderie, hard hits, and a whole lot more. What it should never be known for, however, is racism.
Sport has been trying to kick racism out for as long as many can remember. The ‘Stand Up Speak Up’ campaign of the mid-2000s consisting of a black and a white wristband, launched by footballer Thierry Henry, was part of a key message sent out around the world that racial discrimination and prejudice would not be accepted in sport.
Since that time there have been many movements and voices that have called for equality, acceptance, and joy to be spread around the sporting world.
‘Rugby Against Racism’ was launched by the Six Nations in 2021 for the reason that “Despite rugby’s strong culture of respect and inclusiveness, incidents of racist abuse have taken place, and players at all levels of the game have experienced it both in-person and on social media.
“We know that those who experience racism can feel isolated. Silence can seem to condone the behaviour, while those involved in spreading abuse can feel emboldened unless they are challenged.”
We mustn’t forget the great work from current players like Beno Obano, Maro Itoje and others have done. These campaigns and movements have all done a world of good, and will no doubt have given many the confidence to join clubs and sports teams and feel welcomed.
Despite all this, there appears to still be a problem with racism in the game, with former player, and current TV presenter Ugo Monye taking to Twitter to express his dismay at recent racial abuse he has allegedly received at the weekends Exeter vs Gloucester match.
Leaving Sandy Park and one supporter running through crowd starts shouting “Nigga, Nigga…” disgraceful.ADVERTISEMENT
Not a single person said a word, challenged or even reported it.
— Ugo Monye (@ugomonye) November 19, 2023
Detailing the issue he had, Monye explained: “Leaving Sandy Park and one supporter running through crowd starts shouting “N****, N****…” disgraceful. Not a single person said a word, challenged or even reported it.
“He walks off after a mild scuffle and fans are now telling me “We’re with you” BOLLOCKS you’re with me. You weren’t with me when you saw and heard the most blatant racism I’ve seen from a supporter at a live game. So fed up”
In a statement, Exeter Rugby Club said: “This behaviour will not be tolerated at our rugby club, and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms.
Our team will begin to review CCTV footage from the stadium immediately in an attempt to identify the individual in question and we would like to extend our sincerest apologies to Ugo Monye, a member of the rugby community that is highly respected by everyone at our club.
If anyone has any information regarding this incident we would ask you to get in touch with the Chiefs as soon as you can.”